Leftover Ham? Whip Up a Batch of These Cheesy, Savory Scones

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

When I was growing up down south, Easter supper wasn't Easter supper without a honey-baked ham on the table. Oh, sure, we had lamb as well, but by my father's reckoning, the meal was simply incomplete without ham—mostly because that man sure does love a ham sandwich. But, to be honest, a family can only eat so many sandwiches.

If that sounds familiar, just follow my lead: Dice up your leftover ham, grab a handful of scallions, and coarsely shred some cheese. That's all it takes to put a savory twist on a batch of plain and simple scones. For this batch, I happened to use some shredded Gruyère, but just about any shreddable cheese will do, whether that's sharp cheddar or Drunken Goat.

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The basic mix starts out exactly the same as my bakery-style chocolate cream scones, with cold butter rubbed into a mix of flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

Just as a pinch of salt can go a long way to round out the flavor of a dessert, a bit of sugar stays in the mix here to offset the savory richness of ham and cheese, while softening the sharpness of green onion. Plus, anyone who's ever had a honey- or maple-glazed ham knows how amazing that subtle edge of sweetness can be.

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Once the butter has all but disappeared into the floury mix, you can actually pause the recipe and refrigerate everything in an airtight container up until the date stamped on your package of butter. When you're ready to bake the scones, just dump the mix into a bowl, then add a heaping cup of diced ham, a quarter cup of chopped scallions, and a handful of coarsely shredded cheese. (When you're measuring mix-ins, volume can often be more important than weight, since it's the only measurement that can give you an idea of how much space these ingredients will occupy in the scone.)

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Toss the fresh and dry ingredients together until they're evenly distributed, stir in a mix of milk and cream to form a stiff dough, and pat it all out into a wheel no less than one inch thick. Cut into wedges with a chef's knife, and generously cover with shredded cheese; again, the specific amount is less important than physical coverage, but if that's giving you any anxiety, aim for about three ounces.

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Bake until the scones are puffed and the cheese is melted and golden, about 25 minutes in a 400°F (200°C) oven. Do give the scones a few minutes to cool before digging in. The steam pictured a couple of photos down is the real deal—those pockets of ham and cheese are screaming-hot.

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While my version keeps the flavors simple, with ham, cheese, and a hint of onion from the scallions, feel free to customize the recipe with your favorite herbs and spices. Try a bit of fresh rosemary or smoky paprika; the scone mix is a blank canvas for your cravings.

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Whether served up for brunch with Daniel's Fluffy Scrambled Eggs, or at the dinner table alongside a hearty bowl of Kenji's Broccoli Cheese Soup, these fast and simple scones will make short work of whatever leftover ham you find in your fridge after the holidays.